By Monica Kobusiinge
Kampala: Makerere University authorities are making plans to have fundraising strategies that will see alumni and people with an attachment to the university donate towards the restoration of the burnt iconic Ivory Tower.
When the building caught fire on Sunday, many people who associate with the university from all works of life asked for the reconstruction of the building before the university makes its centenary celebrations due in 2022.
Many took to their social media handles and offered to donate money, now, the Makerere University council during its extraordinary sitting has approved the proposal of fundraising and looking for donations.
Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the university vice-chancellor said that upon getting the council approval, they are going to put out bank accounts and other platforms where donations can be sent.
The chief government valuer had valued the ivory tower at 15.4 billion shillings, however, the university is yet to establish how much money will be required for the reconstruction.
In line with the proposal, Dr Tanga Odoi, the chairman Makerere University convocation has implored all former students of the University to take heed when a call to reconstruct the Ivory Tower building which got burnt is done. He argued that when the time comes, the convocation should be put to lead the drive.
However, a section of students feel that the burden of reconstruction should be on the government given the fact that the razed structure is seen as national pride and heritage. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, a politician and former student said with the significance of the structure, the government ought to take charge and mobilize resources in the shortest time possible without making ‘car wash drives’.
Regarding the reconstruction, Prof. Nawangwe said that the university has the blueprint of the structure and after the technical structural damage assessment is carried, possibly by the ministry of works, they will have to embark on reconstruction of the building following its original design.
The building was constructed with unique 20th-century British architecture. Nawangwe, who is also an architect observed that although they might make several changes more so in the interior, the outer appearance of the ‘prestigious ivory tower’ will be maintained.
In the same development, the university council has advised management to set up a committee which among other things will be charged with quantifying the value of loss by compiling the value of the property lost in the fire based on the university inventory and board of survey report which had been concluded last month.
The razed structure has stood tall for the last 79 years as a symbol of higher education in Uganda and the entire east and central African region.
Available records indicate that the building in question was constructed with funds from the colonial development course and its foundation of the main administration building was laid on November 3, 1938, by Prince Henry, the then Duke of Gloucester who represented His Majesty, King George VI.
The blue and white-coloured building is the most recognizable face of Makerere University and is seen as national pride and heritage. It has appeared on postage stamps, postcards, and the national currency in different regimes. It is also listed as one of by UNESCO heritage sites.